Comparing Student Performance on Proctored and Non-Proctored Exams in Online Psychology Courses

Lee William Daffin Jr., Ashley Anne Jones


As online education becomes a more popular and permanent option for obtaining an education after high school, it also raises questions as to the academic rigor of such classes and the academic integrity of the students taking the classes. The purpose of the current study is to explore the integrity issue and to investigate student performance on online examinations. Utilizing a sample of about 1,700 students who took online psychology classes of varying difficulty at Washington State University from the spring 2015 to spring 2016, we found that students performed 10-20% better but took about twice as long on non-proctored versus proctored exams. This confirmed our hypotheses and the effect held when we compared our in-house proctoring service used during this time against ProctorU used for one semester in the fall 2012. To ensure the most robust design possible, we also rotated the proctored exam in each class at least once and then compared performance on an exam when it was proctored versus when the same exam was non-proctored. Results showed better performance when the exam was non-proctored then when it was proctored. Finally, since instructors changed over the four semesters our study ran, we wanted to ensure that the results were due to student misconduct and not differences in teaching style. This potential confounding variable was eliminated. Implications of student misconduct for academic integrity in online classes is discussed and potential solutions presented, including a future direction for research.


cheating, online education, proctored exams, time measure

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